Argumentative dynamics in representations of migrants and refugees: Evidence from the Italian press during the ‘refugee crisis’

Discourse and Communication 15 (5):559-581 (2021)


The present paper analyses discursive representations and standpoint-arguments pairs, realized in articles of four mainstream Italian newspapers that report on migrants’ and refugees’ mobilization at the perceived peak of the so-called ‘refugee crisis’. We draw on the scholarly agenda of Critical Discourse Studies, employing tools from corpus linguistic perspectives, which allow us to generalize over the way in which the relevant minorities are represented in our corpus. Then, focusing on a smaller sample of negative representations, we outline a methodological synthesis in order to scrutinize instances of representational meaning in newspapers articles and trace what is argumentatively inferred in discursive representations. To that end we exploit tools from systemic functional and cognitive linguistics as well as the Argumentum Model of Topics for the analysis of inference. In this sense, we demonstrate how discriminatory representations do not only portray migrants and refugees in a negative light but also justify discrimination through the argumentative dynamic they develop.

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